Entering this season, Arizona had won more than 70 percent of its games at Hi Corbett Field since moving off campus in 2012. But this year is off to a rough start at home.
The Wildcats lost 5-1 to West Virginia on Saturday afternoon, dropping their second in a row to open a 31-game home slate and clinching their first home-opening series loss since 1994.
“It’s a long season,” Arizona coach Chip Hale said. “And we’re not gonna hang our heads about a couple losses here, against a good team that’s come here and put it on us.”
Friday’s 6-5 loss in 11 innings included drama throughout, with the game decided on a steal of home. This one was far less exciting, mostly because West Virginia right-hander Blaine Traxel made it so.
The fifth-year senior, a graduate transfer from Cal State-Northridge, allowed five hits with six strikeouts and a walk in a 124-pitch complete game. He led Division I with five complete games last season.
“He did a really nice job, did a great job of basically letting his team play,” said Hale, who said Arizona had 19 hard-hit balls. “Chase Davis hit a ball 100-something miles an hour, it would have been a home run any other day. So sometimes it’s that way. I’m not one bit disappointed with our at-bats.”
Arizona’s lone run came in the bottom of the second when it loaded the bases with 1 out via a walk to Mac Bingham and singles by Cameron LaLiberte and Brendan Summerhill. Mason White hit a ball deep enough to left to score Bingham, but after Nik McClaughry walked Davis roped one to deep-left center than was caught on the warning track.
“That’s baseball,” said Davis, who was 1 for 4. “You’re seeing it well and feeling good, you barrel it, and it goes right at someone. You can’t do anything about it.”
Arizona’s run came when it was already down 2-0, and West Virginia made it 4-1 in the fifth on a 2-run double. That ended the afternoon for starter Anthony ‘Tonko’ Susac, who fell to 0-2 after allowing four runs and six hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
“He just didn’t throw enough strikes early in the game,” Hale said. “Once he got his groove, his sinker was really working. He was getting a lot of ground balls. It’s just early on, he just walked too many guys. That’s not going to work for him. He did battle for the innings he got, so that’s a positive.”
Arizona will try to avoid being swept at home for the first time since 2018 at 1 p.m. MT Sunday. Lefty Bradon Zastrow will be on the mound for the Wildcats.